Nigeria’s security situation is still in dire straits. The ruling and opposition parties have battered themselves over the issue. Security operatives have fallen by the wayside. The rank of Internally Displaced Persons is swelling on a daily basis. But, a few are beneficiaries of the death-situation. And many people are victims and endangered species of insecurity in their fatherland.
Nigerians massively voted for their leaders. The primary constitutional responsibility of government is to protect lives and property. Yet, the same government is wrongly accused of inadequate funding of the military, duplicity in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry ravaging the country. What a predicament!
On Monday, April 26, Niger State Governor, Abuabakar Bello said Boko Haram terrorists hoisted flags in Kaure and Shiroro Local Government Areas of the state and shared married women to themselves.
Benue Samuel Ortom is crying everyday for an end to the security concerns, Borno Stae Governor Babagana Umara Zulum is writhing in pains over displacement of his citizens, Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has declared night curfew in some parts of the state while Imo Governor Hope Uzodinma is having sleepless nights.
Amidst worsening insecurity across Nigeria, President Buhari during his virtual meeting with US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken on Tuesday, urged the United States to reconsider relocating U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa.
Presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina quoted the president to have pleaded with the the international community to support Nigeria and West Africa in tackling growing security challenges.
In what looked as fuelling insecurity, the Nigerian military using Operation Safe Corridor (OSC) carried out De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) Programme of no fewer than 608 repentant Boko Haram insurgents at Malam-Sidi, Gombe State.
Brig. Gen. Musa Ibrahim, Commandant DRR Camp OSC made this known when the Managing Director, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Mr Mohammed Alkali visited the camp.
Moreover, Nigeria closed its land borders with neighbouring Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in August 2019, allowing people to pass through, but blocking the movement of goods.
The objective, Nigerian officials said, was to stem the smuggling of goods, particularly rice. Yet the phenomenon hasn’t stopped since the closure, raising questions about the measure’s effectiveness and the actual reasons for the decision.
A February 2020 meeting of finance and trade ministers convened by the Economic Community of West African States brought together Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, did not resolve the situation.
This action intensified incursion of bandits and smuggling of small arms and other ammunitions into the country. Nigeria announced a partial reopening of its land borders on December 16, 2020 and has allowed passage by light vehicles and pedestrians only since January. Taking the issue to a higher level, Benin and Nigeria’s leaders met in Abuja in January 2021, but the position remained unchanged. A bilateral meeting between Ghana and Nigeria on the sideline of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January 2020 also failed to shift Nigeria’s stance.
Why US Failed to sell arms to Nigeria
President Barack Obama administration refused to sell military armaments to Nigeria on the allegations of human abuses by Nigerian government under ex-President Jonathan Goodluck.
Consequently, US Congress enacted the Leahy Laws or Leahy amendments. The laws are U.S. human rights laws that prohibit the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign security force units that violate human rights with impunity.
However, Mr Buhari, heavily criticised the US especially the Leahy Law, which links military sales to human rights.
It was hypocritical because All Progressives Congress in trying to grab power fabricated the phony to discredit Goodluck administration.
Despite the much touted “ban” allegedly preventing the United States from exporting arms to the Nigerian forces, Pentagon records show the US Army was sending military equipment, including armoured vehicles and ambulances, to Nigeria.
The United States of America’s envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador James Entwistle, had denied reports that the US has refused to sell arms to Nigeria on account of human rights violation in the fight against insurgency in the country.
Entwistle, who spoke as a guest at the Diplomatic Dialogue Series organised by the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, NLI said the US has not cut off Nigeria militarily and that the two countries continue to enjoy healthy military relationship.
He blamed a “blanket application” of Leahy Laws, legislation introduced by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy to prohibit US public funds from being given to foreign military units involved in gross human rights violations.
But Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) records show the Department of Defense is nonetheless set to transfer military material to Nigeria.
A DSCA list of so-called Excess Defense Articles slated for Nigeria indicates the US Army is about to transfer Caiman trucks, armoured vehicles designed “to defeat current and emerging threats,” according to their manufacturer, British-based BAE Systems.
The US Army is also sending armoured vehicles known as MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), made by Navistar Defense, an Illinois company, and Israeli-based Plasan Sasa.
It is unclear which Nigerian military units will receive the equipment, but the State Department has confirmed that deliveries were pending.
“These articles have not been exported yet but are in the process,” said a State Department official in a response to an email query. “We don’t have a date on the export yet.”
Recipients could include a number of units untarnished by allegations of gross rights violations that continue to benefit from US military aid.
“US security assistance to Nigeria hasn’t been suspended,” explained Lauren Ploch Blanchard, a specialist in African Affairs at the Congressional Research Service in an interview from Washington. The US has also cleared so-called ‘clean’ units.”
Trump reversed the Leachy Law
However, ex-US President Donald Trump reversed the Leachy Law when he agreed in 2018 to sell arms and fighter jets to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.
“We’re getting them approved,” Trump told Buhari when they met. “Part of the problem is you weren’t allowed to buy helicopters in our country and now you are; I worked that out.”
Nigeria paid $496 million to the US for the purchase of fighter jets, which are expected to be delivered this year. At no time did Trump reject the deal, as Obama did.
The U.S. administration notified Congress on August 2 of a potential foreign military sale of 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft with related parts and weapons to Nigeria, with “special training on the law of armed conflict and human rights, and air-to-ground integration to minimize civilian harm in air operations.”
The stated purpose of the sale is to “support Nigerian military operations against terrorist organizations Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa, and Nigerian efforts to counter illicit trafficking in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.”
This sale, estimated at approximately $593 million, was held up at the end of the Obama administration due to concern over numerous apparent human rights abuses committed by the Nigerian military, including the January bombing of a displaced persons camp.
British Minister for Africa, Mr. James Duddridge, at a meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Geoffrey Onyema, said the disturbing trend of violence unleashed on Nigerians by Boko Haram sect and allied terror groups is a complex phenomenon that would require varied approaches to resolve.
Fielding questions from journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, when he led a delegation to pay a courtesy visit on Onyeama, Duddridge said the United Kingdom was a strong ally of Nigeria in the efforts to mitigate the challenges posed by terrorism and insurgency.
He stated: “The situation is massively complex and no partnership is going to resolve the multiplicity of problems whether it is Boko Haram or Daesh or a number of other issues. In the UK, you have a strong partner across the full gamut of issues, so, it is not just about intelligence and hard security and military, it is about societies, it is about humanitarian support, it is about education and development partnership.
“It is not an end game, we don’t get to a point where we would say ‘this is the end of our relationship with Nigeria,’ because we got what we want, we set a higher bar, we are long –term partners.”
Onyeama decried the complex nature of the challenges the country is facing, especially in the North-east due to the unconventional nature of the war against terrorism.
“It is not a conventional war, where the enemy is readily identifiable; it is asymmetrical warfare, and we are dealing with very difficult situations. We have an intelligence fusion unit with our partners -the US, UK, France,’’ he said, adding that intelligence sharing will continue to help.
Onyeama stated that there are issues to address such as deradicalisation, education, jobs, girl-child education and so many others needed to resolve the challenges of terrorism.
The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra on Tuesday said the appointment of Dr Isa Pantami as the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy by President Muhammadu Buhari was a continuation of the “Fulanistic agenda of islamizing the country by all means, including electronic digitization and communication.”
Pantami is a Fulani terrorist apologist and avid promoter/supporter of radical and extreme Islamism, according to MASSOB.
“Pantami is a capable and excellent weapon in the hand of President Buhari in his primitive pursuit of making the Nigerian state the permanent homeland for all Fulani scattered in West Africa,” MASSOB Leader Uchenna Madu said in a statement titled, “Buhari has vindicated MASSOB through Isa Pantami’s appointment.”
Pantami’s National Identification Number (NIN) registration was made extremely compulsory only in the southern and middle beltan Christian-dominated areas, according to the statement.
“The NIN registration was an electronic digital instrument of monitoring the personal data of the people of southern and middle beltan regions.
”It will also be a major electronic means of disfranchising the electorate from the southern and middle beltan regions and rigging the presidential election results of 2023 to favour the Fulani interest and Islamic religious agenda.”
Troops involved in the war on Boko Haram (also known as the Islamic State in West Africa) have failed to be “vetted” or approved because of allegations of rights abuses, including summary executions of prisoners and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, since the war on the Islamist insurgency began in 2004.
Nigeria’s security situation will continue to be topsy-turvy until the government in power decides to embrace the truth by doing the right thing at the right time to driving the monster in the country to its graveyard.